Frequently depicted in carved lacquer, peonies are an important symbol for honor, rank, royalty, and wealth. This box bears additional flowers along the sides: camellias, chrysanthemums, pomegranates, and tree peonies. It is one of several pieces in The Met collection with a six-character mark carved on the bottom reading “Made during the reign of the Yongle emperor” (Da Ming Yongle nian zhi). The use of marks like this, seen more commonly on ceramics, began in the early fifteenth century and continued in all media into the twentieth. Works so marked were likely produced for the court.
Inscription: Inscribed: Da Ming Yongle nian zhi 大明永樂年製 (made in the Yongle era of the great Ming)